PART I: Delirium
Note 1: All position previews address the roster as it currently exists.
Note 2: In the case of players who play multiple positions, I’ve listed them at their primary spot (or at least what I think it is based on the information available).
Note 3: Official DCFC Roster page is here.
It’s no fun to start off the position previews on a down note, but the unfortunate reality is that forward was a weak spot for Detroit City in 2016. Javi Bautista and Tyler Channell weren’t able to build on the promise they showed in 2015 and no other striker was able to step up and become a go-to option. Case in point, City’s leading goal scorer for the year turned out to be Tommy Catalano, nominally an attacking midfielder.
To address the need for offense Ben Pirmann went to work and restocked the position with a bevy of new players, but I’ll start off with the lone returner. Tyler Moorman is primarily a forward, but he saw time at nearly every field position last year and is undoubtedly the team’s most versatile player. His signature match came away to Ann Arbor where he started at right back and helped keep prolific scorer Dario Suarez quiet, then moved up to forward and scored the winning goal in a 3-1 comeback. As the tallest atacker on the roster (6’3”), he should see plenty of time in situations that call for a target man up top, and I also expect him to reprise his role as the team’s Swiss Army Knife.
When last we left Shawn Lawson, he was snapping ankles and humiliating defenders en route to scoring the 2014 NPSL Goal of the Year:
After spending 2013 and 2014 with DCFC, Lawson turned out for the Des Moines Menace (2015), Michigan Stars (2016), and Jamaican U-23 national team. He brings some much needed finishing ability to the roster, as well as plenty of creativity.
He showed several flashes of brilliance in his first stint with City, so I’m excited to see what he can do now that he has a few more years of experience under his belt. I’ve penciled him in as my Matchday #1 starter, but he’ll face plenty of competition from Moorman and several talented newcomers.
Foremost among them is the player I’m most interested to see, Roddy Green. Green saw some action last summer with Michigan Stars and is coming off of a 7-goal freshman season at Saginaw Valley State.
He brings a tantalizing combination of size (6’1”) and speed and may have the most potential out of all of the forwards. His goal in Sunday’s friendly against Lawrence Tech gave supporters a taste of his abilities and will only serve to build the hype.
With 8 goals and 9 assists in 2016, the most productive collegiate forward on the team is UIC’s Max Todd. The Hibernian U-20s alum made the All-Horizon League First Team and can also play out on the wing if needed.
Xavier’s Derrick Otim is another youth academy product – Nottingham Forest in this instance. It’s impossible to draw any conclusions from these two goals (Goal #1 Goal #2), but he’s thought of highly by Top Drawer Soccer, who ranked him the #69 freshman in the nation last year.
While diminutive in size at just 5’7”, Mauricio Castorino has built an impressive list of accomplishments at D-II Fort Hays State. He followed up an MIAA Freshman of the Year campaign in 2014 with a 10 goal, 8 assist performance in 2015, and a 5 goal, 12 assist season in 2016. In 2015 he was named Conference Player of the Year.
Rounding out the options at forward is the University of Washington’s Kyle Coffee. Coffee made the All-PAC-12 Second Team as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and has been a consistent starter ever since. This goal demonstrates his finishing ability.
Update: Minutes after publishing this piece, five roster additions were announced. The lone forward among them is Jordan Tyler, who briefly appeared for City in 2013 before pursuing a pro career in Iceland. While at Penn State, he was named to the All Big-Ten First-Team following the 2013 season.
Looking back at last year’s preview, what jumps out most is how few true forwards were actually on the roster. Finishing chances was one of City’s big problems, and they could’ve used another couple players here at the very least. Even if one or two from this group turn out to be better fits at winger, I don’t think the number of bodies should be an issue. Lawson and Green are out-and-out strikers and Todd is a proven goal scorer. I see them starting out as the top three, but whomever emerges, this looks to be a much stronger, deeper position than it was in 2016.
One Reason to Be Excited 🙂
The number of bullets in the chamber. City really really needs consistent goal production from the forwards if they are to make a deep playoff run. I’m confident someone will step up to seize the starting role, and I’d be surprised if there aren’t at least two or three reliable options by the end of the regular season.
One Reason to Worry 🙁
On the other hand, with the number of forwards on the roster, as well as Pirmann’s preference of playing one up top most of the time, there is the danger of not being able to find enough playing time to go around. This could prevent any one player from getting into a rhythm and developing familiarity with his teammates, similar to the situation we saw last year with the constant rotation of goalkeepers. There are several early-season friendlies to work this out, but it may take until late May or early June before we have a clear picture of where everyone shakes out.
Player to Watch
As I mentioned above, I expect Shawn Lawson to start the first match of the season, but Roddy Green is an exciting, physically-gifted young player with a ton of potential. It may take some time for him to hit his stride, but if he does it could elevate City to a serious contender in the Midwest and possibly beyond.